You know you’re a threat to “the enemy” when the enemy starts to openly target you. That seems to be the case for not only former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, but also for up-and-coming end-to-end-encrypted messaging app Telegram. In the wake of the Paris bombing, it appears as though Telegram was one of the messaging apps used by terrorists – and the appeal for criminals has become an appealing tool for ordinary, follow-the-law consumers as well.
Apparently, Facebook and WhatsApp are feeling the heat, and have decided to openly “pout” about it. Their solution? The tale starts with WhatsApp, a popular instant messaging app that has now been swept up by social media giant Facebook in an acquisition some time ago. Facebook has been known as a place that values privacy very little, so it wasn’t surprising that in the FCC discussion over the WhatsApp acquisition that the FCC told Facebook to honor the privacy emphasis of WhatsApp.
Of what is WhatsApp guilty? The instant messaging app is now banning links to Telegram from being seen on the recipient end of text messages. In other words, if you send a message to a friend or relative with a Telegram link attached, prepare to have the link shown as “WhatsApp” on the recipient end of the conversation.
In recent days though, WhatsApp has become known as one of the most non-private messaging apps consumers could ever use in mobile. Earlier this year, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s privacy score card indicted WhatsApp because the instant messaging company does not publish any information regarding privacy, including information about the government’s inspection of the individual, its position on mandatory warrants prior to the sending of user data, and how the company protects the user data of its citizens. This isn’t to say that WhatsApp hasn’t got some form of end-to-end data encryption in place; it does, via TextSecure, but this is limited to Android (isn’t there yet for iOS) and it doesn’t cover video chats and messages.
One could easily believe that this is a mistake or a sign of a serious bug, but the “mistake” has been found planted well within the code of WhatsApp – so it’s no mistake. An “intentional” mistake is no mishap because it’s deliberate.
And the drama doesn’t stop there. WhatsApp’s new parent company, Facebook, has decided to intervene by removing Telegram’s Facebook page. Apparently, even Facebook has no time for the messaging app because it is a threat to Facebook’s own policies. Facebook isn’t all that private, so this is no surprise. What is a surprise, however, is to see Facebook publicly take a stance against Telegram when Telegram is quickly rising to become one of the most private messaging apps in mobile existence. This doesn’t send a good sign to Facebook users that the Mark Zuckerberg-led company cares about privacy all that much.
And privacy is a hot button topic with just about everyone these days.